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A drivers guide to driving in the UK
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Quad Bike Safety

ATVs are fun but without taking the proper safety precautions accidents can, and do, happen. It is therefore vital that all ATV users, whatever their age or experience, follow the basic and common-sense safety rules when riding an ATV.

Most importantly all ATV users should learn to ride safely by taking a ATV training Course.

Even experienced ATV riders appreciate a refresher course to remind them why they should always wear protective personal equipment and how to carry out a pre-ride machine check.

Rules of ATV Safety

Advice about Protective Personal Equipment

• Always wear a helmet and other protective gear.

• Read your machine’s Owners Manual and familiarise yourself with the importance of all warning labels displayed on your ATV.

• Avoid paved surfaces.

• Never ride on public roads unless your machine is a Quadricycle that has been specifically manufactured for this purpose and complies with the relevant type approval code for that particular model of Quadricycle and you hold the correct type of Driving Licence and Insurance.

• Never ride under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

• Never carry a passenger unless your machine has been specifically designed and manufactured to do so.

• Ride an ATV that’s right for your age and experience.

• Supervise riders younger than 16.

• Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.

Personal protective equipment for ATV Rider safety.

The single most important piece of protective gear you can wear is A HELMET. A good helmet can help prevent serious head injuries. Studies have shown that wearing a helmet DOES NOT reduce essential vision and hearing. Operating without an approved motorcycle helmet increases your chances of severe head injury in the event of an accident.

Protection should be your first consideration when buying a helmet.The full-face helmet provides the most protection since it covers more of your face.Recent design improvements in shell material and interior ventilation have improved comfort.The next choice in protection is the three-quarter (open-face) helmet. It does not offer face and chin protection that full-faced helmets do, so if you chose this style, it should be used with mouth/chin protection.

For a helmet to offer the most protection possible it must be fitted properly.Your helmet should fit snugly but comfortably and be securely fastened.

The British Standard for Safety Helmets (January 2006) is BS 6658:1985. Please look for the British Standard ’Kitemark’ and the number of the standard. The European Standard is UN ECE Regulation 22.05 (it will have a UN ’E’ mark and the first two digits of the approval number will be ’05’).

A Face Shield or Goggles

Being able to see clearly will help you ride more safely. Operating without eye protection can result in an accident and increases your chances of a severe eye injury in the event of an accident.

An object such as a rock, branch or even a bug that hits you in the face can distract you: but if you are hit in the eyes, you could be blinded. Regular sunglasses do not provide enough protection when riding an ATV.

A face shield or goggles will help protect you. Eye protection should be:

• Free from scratches and manufactured to BS4110 OZA

• Securely fastened

• Tinted for riding on bright days, clear for night riding or yellow for over cast days.

The British Standard (January 2006) for goggles is BS EN 1938 and BS4110:1999 for visors. Visors approved to BS4110:1999 would also satisfy BS4110:1979 and its amendments. BS EN1938 is the national derivative of the harmonised European standard prepared for the Council Directive 89/686/EEC as amended.


Gloves should be of a quality that will help prevent your hands from getting sore, tired or cold, as well as offering protection in the event of a spill. Off-road style gloves, available at leading motorcycle and ATV dealerships, provide the best combination of protection and comfort. They are padded over the knuckles for added protection.


The minimum protective footwear is a pair of over-the-ankle boots with low heels to help prevent feet from slipping off the footrests. Off-road style over-the-calf ATV or motorcycle boots offer the best protection for feet, ankle and legs.


It is important to protect your skin from scratches. A long sleeved jersey/sweater, shirt or T-shirt and long trousers are requirements for rider protection.

Off-road riding gear such as a sweater/jersey with shoulder pad/protection, chest protector and off road trousers with knee/shin and hip protection provide ATV riders with better protection.

Handling Tips

• Most ATVs have no differential and so do not handle in the same way as other machines. This
means that when you turn, the ATV tries to keep going in a straight line.

• When cornering on an ATV with no differential or with the differential lock engaged, where your
body weight needs to be positioned depends on how sharp the corner is and on how fast you are going. Correct body position allows you to transfer weight to the outside of the turn through the footrests while maintaining balance with the torso. This lets the inside wheels skid slightly allowing
the ATV to make the turn properly.

• You must understand how the transmission system of your machine will affect engine braking
for both riding, and recovery of stalled ATVs, on slopes. When riding across a slope, keep your weight on the uphill side of the ATV.

• When going downhill, slide your weight backwards, select a low gear and use engine braking, reducing the need to use the brakes.

• When going uphill, it is important to review the route before starting the climb. Move your weight
forwards and maintain a steady speed. It is important to shift your body weight forwards as
much as possible. If necessary stand up and lean forward, keeping both feet on the footrests at all
times and always maintain momentum.

•Avoid sudden increases in speed, as this is a common cause of rearward overturning accidents,
even from a standing start on flat ground where there is good grip.

Dangers of ATV Road Use

"Honda invented All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) in 1970 and account for over 50% of all ATVs in the world.

Jeff Dodds of Honda has previously expressed his concern at the increased use of ATVS as road vehicles, stating:

"Recently in the UK, importers have been taking advantage of an unusual road-registration category to offer an alternative form of road transport and we strongly believe that this is a bad idea for all ATV manufacturers out there.

"We have worked long and hard with the AEA and the HSE to ensure that ATVs are operated in a responsible manner, by qualified operators wearing the correct protective clothing. Seeing leisure machines being marketed as an alternative to a car, is worrying to say the least."

In the UK, ATVs - or quad bikes as they are often referred to - have become indispensable workhorses for agriculture and the land-based industries offering go-anywhere - do-anything capability to a variety of professions from farming, forestry, land management and veterinary work to the armed forces, emergency services and even remote post deliveries for Royal Mail.

"Some of our ATV dealers around the country have told us about an increase in questions from the public about road registration and ‘road-legal ATVs’. To avoid confusion in the marketplace we have informed our dealers about our position so that any future enquiries about Honda ATVs can be handled in a consistent and effective manner," added Dodds.

"Honda does not recommend or sell ATVs as a primary means of transport on public highways. Some of Honda’s specialist ATV dealer network will register and fit road-legal lighting kits to working ATVs that need to cross or travel along short stretches of public roads to facilitate their work [legally defined as ‘limited use’]. For instance farm vehicles that need to traverse a public road to get to another field, or local authority machines that are used for roadside maintenance and weed control.

"In the interests of the safety of anyone enquiring about road-legal applications Honda (UK) can only recommend that ATVs are used where they were designed to operate: off road. Our ATVs are the ‘Best on Earth’ and that’s exactly where we’d like to keep them." Concluded Dodds.

Honda (UK) does not support the activities of some quad bike importers that register modified machines in the ‘Quadricycle’ category that allows unlimited access to paved public roads. These importers often market ATVs as a great alternative to cars or motorcycles but quad bikes, in reality, offer the worst of both worlds for travel on Tarmac. For anyone considering buying an ATV for road use, the following facts may help them make the right decision about their next mode of transport.

Misconception: Four wheels make them more stable than a motorcycle
Reality: When stationary maybe. But long suspension travel, low-pressure tyres, knobbly tread and different riding technique all mean that they are not well suited for a smooth hard surface where even normal in-town running speeds are approaching the machine’s terminal velocity (Honda has some experience of building motorcycles so you’ll have to take our word for this one).

Misconception: A great traffic-busting machine
Reality: Four wheels make ATVs considerably wider than motorcycles so filtering between and past stationary vehicles will be much more difficult. Additionally, a Quad registered as a Car cannot legally use parking spaces designated for Motorcycles.

Misconception: A cheap alternative to a car
Reality: As they have four wheels, road-registered ATVs have to pay the same amount of Road Fund Licence as a car and in case you were wondering, yes they have to pay the Congestion Charge too. All this without the luxury of a roof, heating, airbags, side impact protection etc...
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